So waking up to a tweet by President Trump even suggesting that the election should be delayed honestly made my blood boil.
My husband then asked me if he could delay the election, and the answer is no. Congress sets the federal Election Day. Congress passed the Presidential Election Day Act in 1845. This law states that the election should take place “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November” as the day on which all states must appoint electors.
So let’s play devil’s advocate and say that President Trump tries to pass an emergency act to delay the election, and the Supreme Court doesn’t overrule him.
The Twentieth Amendment states:
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
So in simplified terms, if the President isn’t elected before January 20th the outgoing President’s term will end and Congress can choose a new president until an election takes place.
Now let’s go even further. Since if the presidential election doesn’t take place than no federal elections would take place. So we would have no House of Representatives as of January 3rd and one-third of the Senate will not have been elected (although the constitution does allow the states to choose Senators).
So who would be president if Trump delays the election until after January 20th, probably the longest-serving member of the Senate who is not up for re-election? Who would that be? Democrat Patrick Leahy. So if Trump gets his way he would be handing the Presidency to the Democratic Party, not stay in power indefinitely. Thank you, Constitution.